Co-ops in NE: Sikkim’s Citizens Urban Co-op Bank inspires hope!

The cooperative movement in the north eastern states is perceived to be very weak but there are a few co-ops, which are doing wonders in catering to the basic needs of people in general, and their meeting financial needs in particular. The Sikkim based Citizens’ Urban Cooperative Bank, is an example that is the sole urban cooperative bank in the state helping the people through the cooperative model.

Established in 2003, the Citizens’ Urban Cooperative Bank has not only been earning profit for the last many years but also has been disbursing an eight percent dividend to its shareholders for the past five years. A retired government officer, PK Pradhan played an important role in its establishment and is still aiming to take the bank to newer heights.

“I had retired as the Chief Engineer, PWD Department, Government of Sikkim in 1997. After retirement, I worked to start a small financial institution to help the citizens of the state. Then I met one of the RBI officials in Kolkata who inspired and motivated me to start a cooperative bank”, said Pradhan.

“You will be surprised to note that more than 400 applicants applied for the RBI license but only one bank got the license that is Ours”, said Pradhan while talking to the Indian Cooperative.

Highlighting the future goals Pradhan said, “The initial discussions are already going on to convert the bank into a Small Finance Bank and we are planning to meet the state Chief Minister in this connection”.

“Because of the good financial position, RBI has not been auditing the bank for the last five years. The annual turnover of the bank is around Rs 100 crore and has a network of six branches. More than 6k shareholders are associated with the bank and have a customer base of 25,000”, the Chairman informed.

He further said, “Citizens’ Urban Cooperative Bank is committed to providing the best banking services to the people of Sikkim and contributing to the growth of the state’s economy. The bank now has the facility of the IFSC code. The bank has introduced a wide range of credit schemes at attractive interest rates”, Pradhan asserted.

Readers would recall that last year, the bank signed the engagement letter with Mumbai based Tax Point Direct Consultancy Firm for providing consultancy and professional services for transition of the bank into a Small Finance Bank (SFB).

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